Wednesday, 04 July 2018 12:26

High-performance VDI opens new opportunities

By
Dell cloud client-computing vice-president and chief strategy officer Jeff McNaught Dell cloud client-computing vice-president and chief strategy officer Jeff McNaught

Virtual desktop infrastructure is applicable to a wider range of use cases than ever, including high-performance workloads, according to Dell cloud client-computing vice-president and chief strategy officer, Jeff McNaught.

Dell is "the only company that builds a true end-to-end solution" for VDI, McNaught told iTWire.

It can supply the necessary data centre infrastructure, endpoints, cloud connections, software, support and financing.

Using Dell as a single source means customers escape the finger-pointing that so often occurs in tricky support situations involving multiple vendors, and Dell's financing operation means customers can have a true on-premises solution while paying by use.

VDI is particularly relevant to organisations facing sensitive IP or regulatory issues. It allows data to be kept safely within a data centre while being accessed via inexpensive thin clients by employees and contractors working outside the organisation's premises.

For example, doctors can securely access electronic health records wherever they are, and this has allowed the return of house calls in some jurisdictions.

"We've seen real growth in the healthcare industry," said McNaught, noting that the notebook-style clamshell is the most popular form factor for thin clients in this sector.

Dell's latest thin client, the Wyse 5070 is a compact-PC design with starting prices around US$400, McNaught said. So despite being able to drive up to six displays (or four 4K screens at 60Hz) and including USB Type-C, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth interfaces, it is both cheap enough for undemanding uses such as contact centres, and sufficiently capable (with the appropriate servers and communications links) to run design and engineering software that previously required workstation-class PCs.

Dell Wyse 5070

For example, manufacturing companies can engage engineers in other locations where talent is more readily available or at lower cost. That can be other regions within their home country, or parts of the world such as Asia and Latin America. Software such as AutoCAD can be run in the data centre on powerful servers incorporating virtualised GPUs, and accessed remotely on a thin client. There's no provision for local storage so sensitive data can't be copied, and it is even possible to watermark the display so that any photos taken of on-screen images can be traced.

Deployment is simple: just send a thin client to the contractor or have them buy one locally, then plug in one or more screens, a mouse and keyboard, and connect to a network.

The user experience is the same as if they were sitting at a high-powered workstation, McNaught said.

"This kind of environment was impossible three years ago."

Since most of the intelligence is in the data centre, thin clients can last a lot longer than PCs before they need upgrading. Dell expects them to last around eight and ten years, and plenty of customers are still using 15 year old thin clients, he observed.

"The 5070 is our Swiss army knife."

There are "a lot of new opportunities" for Australian organisations — especially those in the healthcare and engineering segments — to take advantage of VDI as part of their digital transformation projects, he said.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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